NFL Draft 2007 Weekend

This is another highlight of the yearly sports weekend calendar with so much going on.

The NFL moves back into the spotlight this weekend with their annual college draft. This two day event features wall-to-wall TV coverage from two networks, plus more radio and internet coverage than any fan could possibly keep up with.

Locally, WEEI is going big with their coverage this weekend, several personalities who rarely, if ever appear on the airwaves outside of their Monday-Friday routine. Glenn Ordway and John Dennis will both be on this weekend…together in fact. Dale Arnold and Michael Holley are doing a show together, and Pete Sheppard will be on with Greg Dickerson.

In addition to the draft, we’ve got another edition of Red Sox/Yankees, this time down in the Bronx. Locally, NESN has the Friday and Sunday games, while the Saturday game is on FOX.

Keep up with the coverage from the New York papers on the series on the New York Sports Pages.

TNT and ESPN have NBA playoff action this weekend, while NBC and Versus bring you the NHL playoffs.

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On our Patriots Game Day Page, we’ve put together alot of material this week to help get you ready for this weekend, here’s the list and links of the features from this week:

BSMW Draft Week Coverage
Sunday, April 22nd – Second Day Offensive Prospects
Monday, April 23rd – Second Day Defensive Prospects
Tuesday, April 24th – Ultimate Draft Profiles Database
Wednesday, April 25th – Final Rumor Inventory
Thursday, April 26th – Final Mock Board
Friday April 27th – Roundtable
Saturday April 28th & Sunday April 29th – Draft Blog

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A classy move by Stacey James and the Patriots Media Relations department. The following notice was sent around to the media this morning:

From: "James, Stacey"
Date: April 27, 2007 12:52:11 PM EDT
Subject: Dedication to the Memory of Alan Greenberg - Day One of NFL Draft

I am passing along a suggestion made by members of our press corps and encouraged by this department. This weekend will be the first time that members of the Patriots press corps have had an opportunity to gather since the sudden and untimely passing of former beat writer Alan Greenberg. In Alan's honor, it was suggested that the media attending Saturday's draft wear a polo shirt. Pastel colors would be most appropriate. Faded shirts, all the better. Shirts with holes and shorts are entirely optional.

For those of you who do not possess such items in your wardrobe, we will also be honoring Alan by serving Papa Gino's pizza for lunch starting at noon. Please be prepared to eat twice as much as usual. :-)

On a serious note ... While we encourage all of the above in Alan's memory, for those wanting to truly honor the memory of Alan Greenberg, we encourage you to contribute to the trust fund that has been established in for Alan's three children Alex, 13; Allison, 10; and Abigail, 7. Donations can be made in the name of Greenberg Children's Trust, at Citizens Bank; 450 Boston Post Road; Sudbury, Mass., 01776.

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Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated has quite a few thoughts on the Celtics this week, including the following:

VP Danny Ainge knows how to draft young players, and he’s done an exceptional job at it. But the record shows that he doesn’t apply the same investigatory work to scouting the more than 400 players in the NBA. The Celtics are vulnerable on trades for existing NBA players because they don’t do their homework. While they are exceptional at seeking out the minute details of 19-year-old college sophomores, the Celtics — unlike most of their rivals — don’t have a pro personnel scout traveling the league and collecting behind-the-scenes information on veterans who may be traded to Boston. Rival teams are fully aware that Boston is vulnerable on trades for NBA talent, but the Celtics have yet to address this weakness in their front office.

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Patriots.com has their Patriots 2007 Draft Board that will be updated throughout the weekend.

The Patriots Football Weekly staff offer their pre-draft predictions. They all seem to love David Harris.

Rochelle Lefebvre has an interview with Steve DeOssie and Fred Smerlas about their new steakhouse.

Bill Simmons remembers David Halberstam.

Sean McAdam on ESPN.com looks at the Red Sox other Japanese pitcher, Hideki Okajima, who has quietly become their best setup man.

David Steele of the Baltimore Sun tells Curt Schilling to put a sock in it

Richard Deitsch has his sports media power rankings for April.

Jessica Camerato tries to show us a different side of Sebastian Telfair.

Mike Freeman and Gregg Doyel debate on the topic of Telfair and the hype that has surrounded him since high school.

David Borges has a look at Boston College defensive back Ryan Glasper, who may or may not get drafted this weekend after getting a raw deal from coach Tom O’Brien.

David Cohen in a guest column on Football Outsiders attempts to rate Mel Kiper Jr’s predictions over the years.

Tom Curran predicts the NFL prospects who will play right away.

John Clayton has his First and Ten, draft edition.

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Sports Media Columns From Around the Country

New England

Susan Bickelhaupt has a look at the dueling draft coverage of ESPN and the NFL Network this weekend. Bill Doyle has Mel Kiper’s thoughts on the Patriots methods of evaluation and drafting. Andrew Neff looks at Bangor’s own Gary Thorne finding himself in a mess with his comments about Curt Schilling’s bloody sock in the 2004 playoffs. David Scott has a look at Schilling firing back at Thorne and the media on his blog. He also looks at the 12th annual EPpy awards, which are without a Boston representative.

New York
Phil Mushnick relates the story of David Halberstam’s fifth cousin, David Halberstam, who has also been published and was often confused for his more famous relative. Pat Reichart notes that last Sunday’s Red Sox/Yankees game was a record setter for ESPN. He also has five questions for Patrick Ewing, serving as an analyst for NBA-TV. Jack Curry and Richard Sandomir team up for a look at the Gary Thorne situation, and Bob Raissman notes that Thorne’s delivery has “always been fearless, spontaneous and, sometimes, reckless.” Neil Best notes that 35% of the population does not have the ability to watch the NHL playoffs on Versus, even if they wanted to.

More East Coast
Michael Hiestand has a look at what happens when a family member is in the broadcast booth covering another family member. He also notes that NBC has had to kill their live mike during several NHL broadcasts. Chris Zelkovich has The Score having a pretty good week for itself, picking up two Toronto Raptors playoff games. Laura Nachman has Scott Graham adjusting to life outside the Phillies broadcasts for the first time in 16 years. Jim Williams is scratching his head as to how the NFL Draft has become must-see viewing. He also has a look at former Georgetown player Jerome Williams finding work as a color analyst for NBA-TV. The Virginia Tech shootings hit a little too close to home for Leonard Shapiro, whose son is a student at the school.

South
Barry Jackson notes that Dolphins fans have five outlets on which to track this weekend’s draft. He also notes more sniping between WQAM and 790. Dave Darling says that after 24 years of ESPN draft coverage, everyone seems to want Mel Kiper’s opinion. David Barron looks at KILT talk show host John Granato filing a lawsuit against the station and somehow still remaining on the air. Barry Horn says NHL TV ratings are a good news-bad news business.

Midwest
Bob Wolfley says that there is a reason that the networks are always promoting Red Sox/Yankees games – people watch them. Judd Zulgad has the Timberwolves keeping their broadcasts on country music FM station BOB. Teddy Greenstein has Mel Kiper suggesting that the Bears might trade down from 31 in this weekend’s NFL draft. Dan Caesar has the Blues making a deal with FSN Midwest to show playoffs games since KSDK has the Cardinals games and wouldn’t make other arrangements. Jeffrey Flanagan has Dick Vermeil saying that Dante Hall is a great pickup for the Rams, and saying he’d like to do some more TV work next season.

West Coast
Tom Hoffarth looks at Keyshawn Johnson’s part in this weekend’s NFL draft coverage on ESPN. He also compares the NFL draft TV coverage between ESPN and NFL Network. Larry Stewart notes that there is plenty of Barbaro coverage coming up as we approach the Kentucky Derby next month. He also notes that Larry Merchant could be leaving HBO after 29 years. Joe Davidson looks at LA Times sportswriter Mike Penner, who will soon be Christine Daniels. Jim Carlisle notes that the NFL Draft coverage is almost as popular as the on-field games. He also has a note about a recently discovered play-by-play by Vin Scully of Sandy Koufax’s first no-hitter in 1962. John Maffei has plenty more on the NFL draft coverage.

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Weekend Highlights

Friday April 27
7:00pm, NESN – Red Sox @ Yankees
7:00pm, ESPN2 – Raptors @ Nets
7:00pm, Versus – Rangers @ Sabres
8:00pm, ESPN – Bulls @ Heat
9:00pm, TBS – Braves @ Rockies
10:00pm, Versus – Canucks @ Ducks
10:30pm, ESPN – Mavericks @ Warriors

Saturday, April 28
11:00am, NFLN – NFL Draft Coverage
12:00pm, ESPN – NFL Draft Coverage
3:00pm, ABC – NASCAR Busch Series: Aaron’s 312
3:00pm, TNT – Pistons @ Magic
3:00pm, NBC – Sharks @ Red Wings
3:55pm, FOX – Red Sox @ Yankees
5:30pm, TNT – Cavaliers @ Wizards
8:00pm, ESPN – Spurs @ Nuggets
8:00pm, TBS – Braves @ Rockies
8:00pm, Versus – Senators @ Devils
8:00pm, ESPN2 – NFL Draft Coverage
10:30pm, ESPN – Rockets @ Jazz

Sunday, April 29
11:00am, ESPN – NFL Draft Coverage
12:00pm, NFLN – NFL Draft Coverage
1:00pm, NESN – Red Sox @ Yankees
1:00pm, ABC – Bulls @ Heat
1:30pm, FOX – NASCAR Nextel Cup: Aaron’s 499
2:00pm, NBC – Sabres @ Rangers
3:00pm, TBS – Braves @ Rockies
3:00pm, TV38 – Revolution @ FC Dallas
3:30pm, ABC – Suns @ Lakers
7:30pm, TNT – Raptors @ Nets
8:00pm, ESPN – Cubs @ Cardinals
8:00pm, Versus – Ducks @ Canucks
10:00pm, TNT – Mavericks @ Warriors

Wily Mo Comes Through

Trailing 2-1 in the eight inning, the Red Sox had two runners on when the Orioles decided to intentionally walk Jason Varitek in order to get to Wily Mo Pena. The birds had their closer in the game to end the threat, only Pena had other plans. He blasted a grand slam off of Chris Ray to give the Red Sox a 5-2 win in Baltimore.

Michael Silverman looks at Pena calling his shot in the dugout before it happened. Gordon Edes has more on Pena lowering the boom on the Orioles with his eighth inning blast. Bill Ballou has more on the huge hit from Pena to save the Red Sox. Steve Krasner says that the sounds surrounding Wily Mo were were a whole lot different for this at bat.

Steve Buckley notes that Josh Beckett is in some rarefied air with his 5-0 month of April. Amalie Benjaminhas Pena breaking out of his strikeout slump with the huge grand slam.

Dan Shaughnessy describes Daisuke Matsuzaka as a guy who loves to throw. He makes up an elaborate series of scenarios to try and make his point. The Red Sox won the bidding for Matsuzaka over the winter, but Rob Bradford points out that the Yankees could use him now.

Silverman’s notebook has the Yankees pulling their Japanese pitcher, Kei Igawa out of the rotation for this weekend’s series against the Red Sox. Benjamin’s notebook has Matsuzaka getting ready for his start in New York tonight. Krasner’s notebook has David Ortiz getting fooled by a lefty pitcher this time out. Ballou’s notebook has Gary Thorne retracting his comments on the Schilling sock saga.

Oh yeah, that whole Sock thing. I was hoping the Wily Mo grand slam would’ve pushed the topic right off the radar this morning, but I guess everyone needs to get their last thoughts in on the matter.

That of course includes Schilling himself, who put together his response on 38Pitches, and he comes out swinging, not pulling any punches throughout.

Gordon Edes wraps up the whole sock story this morning, hopefully putting it to bed. Rob Bradford has there being a lot of upset Red Sox personnel because of this incident. Alex Speier explains why this was a big deal for everyone involved. Steve Buckley says that it is good to re-examine these legends every once in a while. Spencer Fordin on MLB.com has Thorne admitting his error.

David Sandora has former teammates Doug Mientkiewicz, Johnny Damon and Orlando Cabrera defending Schilling. Krasner says that there is no doubt that Schilling bled for the Red Sox in the 2004 playoffs.

David Scott applauds Schilling for his post, and has a look at the EPpy Awards, in which Boston is not represented at all.

Patriots

Michael Felger says not to look for the Patriots to trade up in the first round, he says they do their best work when they stand pat or even move down. Shalise Manza Young attempts to figure out what the Patriots might do this weekend. Chris Kennedy says that the Patriots are relaxed heading into the draft. Draft week coverage continues on the BSMW Game Day page, where the crew tosses around a few draft related thoughts. Jim Donaldson says that the draft is a guessing game.

Mike Reiss notes that taking wide receivers in the first round often comes with a risk. He does look at Calvin Johnson however, and notes that he is viewed around the league as a can’t miss prospect. He then profiles Ted Ginn Jr and a few other receivers.

John Tomase examines why young linebackers seem to be such a bad fit for the Patriots defense. He says that taking a linebacker early in the draft “will require a shift in the way the Patriots do things.” I’m not sure that’s an accurate statement. He himself says that the club would’ve taken Jonathan Vilma had he been available in 2004. Karen Guregian looks at linebackers who could on the Patriots radar, such as Miami’s Jon Beason or Penn State’s Paul Posluszny. Dan Pires looks at defensive backs who might be possibilities for the Patriots. Mark Farinella also looks at the secondary. Eric McHugh examines the Patriots needs on the offensive side of the ball.

Reiss reports that tight end David Thomas, getting ready for his second season with the Patriots, suffered a broken foot in offseason workouts. Tomase has Vince Wilfork raising money for diabetes research in honor of his father, who died of the disease.

Celtics

Mike Petraglia says that success for the Celtics can be as easy as 1-2-3. The FSN Nothing But Net blog wraps up its three part roster analysis of the Celtics.

Jeff Goodman has former BC big man Sean Williams getting ready for the draft.

Gary Thorne in the Spotlight

The comments by Gary Thorne on Curt Schilling’s bloody sock in the 2004 playoffs have predictably dominated the discussion everywhere today.

Terry Francona and Doctor Bill Morgan were both guests of WEEI’s Dale & Holley show today to dismiss the claims by Thorne. Gordon Edes has the story from Dr. Morgan and also the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The blog Joy of Sox has the complete transcript of the discussion between Thorne and Jim Palmer which led up to the comments about the stain being “painted on” Schilling’s sock. It seems like they were talking about Schilling’s blog and how “the press hates him in Boston” before they got to the sock issue.

The blog http://letsgosox.blogspot.com has the video of the segment. It was taken from the MLB.com archive of the game, and was recorded from a computer screen, so it is a little bit shaky, but you can hear Thorne and Palmer discussing the issue:

ESPN.com has coverage of the issue, including excerpts from Alan Schwarz’s new book, Once Upon a Game: Baseball’s Greatest Memories in which Schilling recalls the game against the Yankees in the 2004 playoffs.

A few other links on this issue today:

Dan Kennedy says both Mirabelli and and Thorne have some explaining to do, and he wouldn’t be surprised to see Mirabelli run out of town over this.

Deadspin finds it shocking that Schilling is being accused of being self-aggrandizing.

Baseball Musings says Thorne has been known to screw up on the air before.

Thorne’s chat today on USA Today has been canceled. Thorne was scheduled to be a guest on the NESN pregrame tonight. We’ll see if he makes that appearance.

Though Schilling hasn’t commented yet on 38Pitches, Rob Bradford did pull out some old references to the sock for his new Herald blog the Bradford Files.

I’m inclined to believe that Thorne meant this as a throw-away comment, not thinking that it would actually be followed up on. He may have misinterpreted a joke or comment made by Mirabelli (perhaps not even directly to him) and then embellished it as part of his storytelling/time filling during the Orioles broadcast. He didn’t think that there was any way that he would be challenged on the statement. I’m sure broadcasters might do this with little things, but this one was too big to ignore. Now it has blown up in his face, and he’s been embarrassed by it.

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This video really has nothing to do with the bloody sock, but I found it interesting anyway. It is WGBH’s Beat the Press talking about Schilling’s blog last month: